06 April 2015

Towards Deeper Waters ...

Rita started this off, here. She made a point I can't remember having seen made anywhere else: that Pope Benedict, in liberalising access to the 1962 Rite in Summorum Pontificum, called for mutual enrichment between the Extraordinary and Ordinary forms of the Mass.  Everything I have heard or read since SP has been about the tridentinisation of Pope Paul's Mass, rather than any movement the other way round.  Rita mentions three or four ways in which the EF could be changed to cater more for people formed in the OF, and there are more it is easy to think of: more dialogue; the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar in English; the people saying at Low Mass what they might sing at High Mass; the Mass of the Catachumens versus populum; the response "Amen" at Holy Communion. Hold on to these thoughts for a moment, though, because they lead me on to something else.

If you have been following my 1863 series, you will have realised that the 1962 Missal is very, very, different from what had gone before.  In fact Bugnini and the reformers who would go on to change the Liturgy utterly after Vatican II had set to work during the Pontificate of Pius XII.  If you read Rubricarius's posts on what Holy Week was like before the 1950s, or John R on the way in which the Holy Week changes and the introduction of evening Mass destroyed a balance in the whole of the Liturgy (the Mass and the other offices), you may, if you are like me, get a sense of the desertification of the liturgical landscape, and the impoverishment of our worship.  Imagine anybody setting out to rob the Exsultet of symbolism and meaning by making it a simple recitation instead of something wrapped around some of the activities of Holy Saturday!

Now, and this is where I come over all tentative, can we really imagine that somebody with the liturgical sensitivity of Pope Benedict could believe that the product of the reform of the 1962 Missal was banal, but that the product of the reform of the pre-1950 Missal wasn't? If we can't, and that's the direction in which I think I'm heading, what was Summorum Pontificum about, and what did the call for mutual enrichment mean? Come to that, what is all this business about two "forms" of the Roman Rite, instead of talking about "Uses"?

Going back to another of Rita's themes, it is clear that the liberalisation of the use of the 1962 Mass hasn't made a significant difference, in this country at least: the faithful aren't flocking to it in great numbers. My guess is that the reason is that it is totally alien to what most Catholics think Mass should be like: Mass should be noisy and participative with everybody joining in; it should celebrate community; it should make those present think of Holy Thursday rather than Good Friday; the priest "only" presides, and lay men and women should do everything possible except for the liturgical action.

Might the 1962 EF Mass and mutual enrichment have been a way to try to slow down (and eventually halt) the decay in the form of worship in the Roman Rite? The EF might help re-situate the way mass-goers experience the Mass and reverse some of the effects of the disastrously poor liturgical formation of the faithful in the last 50 years but it only will if the faithful start attending it, and they only will if it at least begins to approximate to the thing they normally experience when they go to Mass.  The idea of any (never mind all) of the changes I have listed above fill me with horror, but maybe I'm not the target audience.

If I'm right, the 1962 EF rite becomes the first station on the return journey or perhaps something which will necessarily have to be changed out of all existence if a future Summorum Pontificum is to restore to a receptive audience a form of the Liturgy which is worthy of what it was established to convey.

Or maybe it's just the effects of alcohol after a six and a half week break.


Part-time Pilgrim said...

Do you think if priests HAD to say both the EF would influence the way they say the OF? (I know that idea is unrealistic but just a thought)

Rita said...

Happy Easter!
Sorry for disturbing your bank holiday peace and quiet. I have really enjoyed your posts on 1863 and they have done nothing to lessen my irritation at the reforms of Pius XII. All I will say is that talking to my husband's family: they loved the changes to the Triduum. They were never enthusiastic about 1968/9, but the changes to the Triduum in the early 1950s were the cat's pyjamas. It really seemed like a taste of heaven for one young, working class, northern milltown family.

My personal grouse is laid firmly at the feet of Pius X, and if I ever make it to heaven, I'll be knocking on the door of his mansion, (and may it be some way from mine) and ask him if in hindsight, was he not a little heavy handed, especially with the Breviary?.... talk about rupture....